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Transportation Alternatives Data Exchange (TrADE)

TA Basics

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apply1The federal government has provided, on average, more than half a billion dollars each year since 1992 to the states as a whole to implement Transportation Alternatives-type projects. In general, each state department of transportation (DOT) is responsible for developing and administering its own TA program, and thus the program varies by state. Within a given state, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) for large cities also have jurisdiction over some TA funds, and discretion to implement their own selection processes. Both state DOTs and MPOs receive applications for TA funds from local governments, state and federal resource agencies, or nonprofit organizations partnered with governments. However, state DOTs may not generate internal project proposals.

A successful application must show that the project will relate to surface transportation and that it qualifies as one of the 10 eligible activities. Additionally, the applicant must demonstrate how the project will be financed. Typically, the applicant must be prepared to furnish at least 20 percent of the proposed project cost, with the federal government providing the remaining 80 percent, though this ratio varies from state to state.

Many TA projects occur outside of state-owned rights of way. In these cases, project sponsors must also be prepared to demonstrate how the project will be maintained after it is complete.

Tips for a successful application:

  • Relate the proposed project to surface transportation
  • Show that the project can be categorized as one or more of the 10 eligible activities
  • Discuss the project's potential economic, community, cultural, aesthetic, and/or environmental benefits, with data and graphs when applicable
  • Use maps and data to show how the project will enhance access to local and regional transportation networks, if applicable
  • Use maps to show the project site, if applicable, and relate it to other area destinations
  • Make reference to similar successful projects
  • Demonstrate how the project sponsor will fund 20 percent or more of project cost
  • Demonstrate that there is community support for the project
  • Relate the project to existing state and metropolitan transportation plans

If your project is selected:

  • Confirm project parameters with state transportation agency staff
  • Sign an agreement with your state agency
  • Choose a project manager to consult with the state agency
  • Obtain environmental clearance
  • Plan and design the project
  • Obtain clearance of rights-of-way
  • Submit paperwork for design, procurement, bid and construction
  • Invite bids for the project
  • Select a contractor
  • Invoice completed work and receive reimbursement
  • Obtain a construction certificate
  • Keep proper financial records in case of audit
  • Celebrate your project!



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